Mount Usu is an active volcano standing at 737 meters, located by Lake Toya in Hokkaido. It has been around for 20,000 years standing next the Lake Toya. In the past 100 years, the volcano has erupted four times, with the latest eruption in 2000 that lasted for five months. The other eruptions happened in 1910, 1944, and 1977. Along with Lake Toya and Mount Showa-Shinzan, they hold the UNESCO Geopark status.
The best way to see Usuzan up close is to ride the Usu Ropeway cable car. It brings you up close to the volcano's summit taking about 6 minutes to reach the top. At the mountaintop station, there is an observation deck on the right and another observation deck after a short walk that takes you to the original site of the mountain's eruption. The upper station of the observation deck offers panoramic views of Lake Toya, Showa-Shinzan, and some craters that fume volcanic smoke. From the second observation deck, there are views of the ocean and Mount Usu's largest crater, formed by the 1977 eruption. There is a path that leads further, taking an extra hour but leads down into and around the Usu Crater Basin.
At the bottom of the ropeway, there is a visitor center that offers a free 'eruption experience room'. You can experience the sounds and sights of an eruption and feel the magma welling up from below the ground. Inside the visitor center is information about the volcanoes and the geology of the area on the site. There are also shops for souvenirs and a few restaurants at the center.
Opening Hours: 9:00-16:00 (longer hours during summer)
Entrance Ticket: 1600 Yen (Ropeway round trip)
Address: Showashinzan, Sobetsu, Usuzan, Hokkaido
Duration: 2-3 hours